From his puck-juggling to his powerful backhanded shots, two-year-old Sergei Ovechkin is clearly an advanced hockey player at his age. Sergei’s skills are so impressive that his dad, NHL legend Alex Ovechkin, is convinced that his son will someday make his living playing sports.
While speaking with Russian Television International earlier this month, Ovechkin spoke about his son’s talent in sports and how his parents supported and inspired him enough to reach the NHL.
“I have no doubt he will be an athlete,” Ovechkin said as translated by Elizabeth Winters. “He is strong, has good coordination, and remembers all moves. He loves sticks and pucks.”
“So it is going well?” Tina Kandelaki, the interviewer, asked.
“We’ll try our best,” Ovechkin replied.
During the 2019-20 season, Ovechkin brought his son to the rink several times, first giving him a tour of the Capitals locker room and then later skating him around the ice. In February, Ovechkin brought Ovi Jr. onto the ice after Capitals practice and his son tried to steal the full-length sticks of Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The two stickhandle together. At home, the two practice together taking shots in the driveway, and at night, Sergei sleeps with his hockey stick by his side. The obvious next step of Sergei’s evolution is to try skating.
“I was actually planning to try it before this year’s playoffs, but the pandemic interfered,” Ovechkin said. “We ordered skates and guards. When we started putting the skates on, he started crying and didn’t understand what was going on. Now he puts on the helmet and the gloves all by himself.”
Ovechkin said that he first started skating when he was eight-years-old. He said that it was “late” considering some parents throw their kids on the ice between three and four.
“The parents have to listen to the kids,” Ovechkin said. “You could say I slept with my stick and could not imagine my life without hockey. Without my parents and the family, of course, I would not have been able to achieve anything. The nineties were hard. My father left work to be with me 24/7. Three practices a day. Taking me to the rink, to the tournaments, to another country to play three or four games. He watched me so I would not develop bad habits, like smoking, etc.”
Ovechkin would go on to cite his older brother’s untimely death as the reason why he’s become such a successful athlete himself. When The Great 8 was only 10-years-old, Sergei was involved in a car accident while Ovi was playing at a hockey tournament. Two days later, Sergei died due to a blood clot.
Without that event, “I might not have become an athlete at all,” Ovechkin said. “I just realized at that time that I needed to follow this path and stay focused. I would either achieve success or switch to another activity. And then luck, a convergence of circumstances, don’t know what else, but things worked out the way I generally wanted to.
“I just said to myself I had to do everything I could to bring joy to my parents,” he added. “I saw how depressed they were. At 10, there is nothing else you can do. So I tried to bring joy to my parents playing at every game, scoring goals. It was not much joy, and not only my parents but aunts and uncles had a very hard time. But for me personally, it was important to bring some joy to my mother and father who came to every game.”
Now, Ovi is trying to support Ovi Jr. and give him every advantage that he never had.
“We came to a Dynamo-SKA game,” Ovechkin said. “Sergei had a plastic stick. Dima Yashkin cut off a piece of the stick to make it shorter. I was thinking if I’d had a small stick when I was a kid, I could have scored 100% of the goals.”
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